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|Published:||15 March 2001|
|Origin:||Presented at "Space: The Free Market Frontier", 15 March 2001. Published by the Cato Institute with permission. Released to the Cato Institute in all forms. Copyright 2001 by Wayne N White, Jr.|
Existing national and international laws provide a rudimentary framework for commercial activities and settlement in outer space and on celestial bodies. Although we have limited experience with activities outside of space vehicles or enclosed facilities, it is possible to analyze how existing laws will be applied to activities such as mining, manufacturing and construction. One can also conclude that private settlement of outer space and celestial bodies is legal under existing law. Nonetheless, the paucity or outright absence of law regarding certain key subjects such as property rights, mining, salvage, liability, and dispute resolution is a disincentive to private space activities. Individuals, companies and investors are unsure of their rights and have no assurance that their efforts and investments will be legally protected. There is much that national governments can do to encourage private space activities through international agreements and national legislation. This article discusses the existing legal regime and proposes new laws and treaties which would encourage private space activities.